Three weeks before strangling seven-year-old McKenzie Hope Rechier, the 25-year-old suspect confided in a neighbour that she planned to kill the child and herself.
Palo Seco mother Michelle Alexander told Sunday Guardian she quickly sought the assistance of police and other public officials to help the suspect who battled mental problems. However, that help never came.
The makeshift home at Number 7 Road Extension, Palo Seco, where the child's body was found.
Horror struck the community on Saturday morning as the visions of McKenzie's frail and lifeless body now haunt the minds of relatives and police who found her on a soiled mattress inside the 10x10 ft wooden shack that she and the suspect called home.
“When you are in big places, and you have money, they come and talk to you. But these are poor people in these areas, so we do not get assistance when it is needed,” Alexander said.
Shortly after midnight Saturday, Santa Flora police, WPC Monsegue and PC Aguillera responded to a report of an incident involving a child at Number 7 Road, Palo Seco. There they met the suspect and others. Inside a dirty room, they found McKenzie lying in a foetal position with a reddish mark on her neck and her face swollen. They arrested the suspect who remained at the Santa Flora Police Station on Saturday.
A report stated that the suspect left home around 4 pm on Friday after calling a friend to take her to a grocery. She told her friend she wanted to visit Imam Yasin at a Claxton Bay mosque. After arriving around 10.20 pm, the suspect told Yasin that she had strangled McKenzie at home. Yasin took her back home around 12.30 am yesterday and contacted the police.
Speaking near her home, Alexander said McKenzie often came to her house to play. However, she realised something was wrong with McKenzie and the suspect's behaviours. When she inquired, the suspect told her: “Allyuh would not see us just now. We would not be here soon.”
The room in which Mckenzie Hope Rechier's body was found.
Suspecting that things were serious, Alexander pleaded with her to speak out. The suspect twice confided in Alexander that she thought about killing the child and herself.
“She told me she had this feeling that she wanted to kill herself and the child. I asked 'What did this child ever do to you? What did that child do to you that you want to take her life? I said she is our future. She could be a lawyer, doctor, or police. Why would you take that from her?'”
The suspect said she was tired of people using and abusing her.
“She never told me about anybody beating her or anything like that. She said she was always putting out everything for everybody, and she was not getting back anything in return.”
Alexander said she and relatives took the suspect to church, and pastors prayed for her. Alexander said her mood progressed, but in recent days, she regressed with a look of surrender and was dressing poorly.
McKenzie's grandmother Brenda Persad said she did not like what the suspect did and almost attacked her at the crime scene, but relatives held her back. Persad, who lives a few meters away, said she last spoke to the suspect and McKenzie on Friday morning before heading to work, and everything seemed well.
However, a commotion outside her home shortly after midnight woke her. McDaryl, a male close to the suspect, called out to her.
“Brenda! Brenda! You're not up? Allyuh don't know? Hope inside the house. (name called) kill Hope and have her in the house. She came quite Pranz Garden and confessed,” McDaryl shouted.
With her sleepwear on, Persad ran through the dark bushy track leading to the house.
“I am calling my grandchild, and she is not answering me. I did not know what to do again.”
Persad said the suspect came out of the room, acting normal. Although the suspect did not tell Persad about domestic abuse, she learned about it. While police heard rumours of mental illness, Persad said the suspect suffered depression after the death of her two-month-old son in April 2016 from a bronchial infection.
The suspect was also unemployed but previously sold food at Cross Crossing in San Fernando and did sweets box sales to make ends meet.
Persad said no one could strangle McKenzie and get away. She said the suspect has to serve prison time. By midday, Persad had not slept and only mustered a smile when describing McKenzie, who loved getting her hair and nails done and spending time at the beach.
“All I know is my princess gone. She will never come back.”